Wednesday, May 04, 2011

igniting your creativity - a guest post by Sarah

Thinking about our month of create, at the studio . . .

I just read a great article by Ronald Alexander called "Six Techniques to Ignite Your Inner Creativity and Passion." He starts off this article with this, "Most of us were taught that creativity comes from the thoughts and emotions of the mind. However, the greatest singers, dancers, painters, writers and filmmakers recognize that the most original, and even transformative, ideas actually come from the core of our being, which is accessed through an 'open-mind consciousness.'"

So what does that mean? When I think of this type of consciousness, I go to the idea of flow. In college, I read a fabulous book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Csíkszentmihályi. Basically, his theory is that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow- a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing.

So, which one comes first, creativity or the flow? I think they both feed on one another. So how to get a little more of both of these in our lives? Well, there are six techniques, thank you for asking!

Alexander's book, Wise Mind, Open Mind, outlines these techniques. Here they are, and with a little commentary from me:

1) Mindfulness Meditation Practice
From Alexander's article, "One of the most effective ways to become creatively toned and start accessing core creativity is through a mindfulness meditation practice. Mindfulness allows us to listen and pay attention to what we might otherwise overlook, whether it's a fresh idea or a new way of perceiving a situation, enhancing our creativity and letting go of our obstacles to innovation."

2) Dabbling In The Arts
What do you like to do? Write poetry? Sing? Paint? Knit? Dance? There are so many different ways to dabble in the arts. Feeling a little nervous about this? Craft shops have kits that can help you jump start in the arts. I'll admit, this is one I struggle with because I am such a perfectionist. But the honest truth is, it is so much fun to create art - don't forget, you're creating for YOU.

3) Immersing Yourself In Nature
When you close your eyes, and think of a place in nature that inspires you, are you on a sandy beach? A wooded mountaintop? Perhaps in a flower-full garden? Reconnecting with nature is a surefire way to tone your creative muscles! And if resources are scarce to make the actual trip, are there sights/smells/sounds that you could surround yourself with? For example, I have a friend who keeps a bottle of coconut scented lotion on her work desk to remind her of the beach. Perhaps finding an audio recording of waves lapping against the shoreline or crickets in concert in the woods would do the trick.

4) Entering Sacred Space
From Alexander's article, "In ancient times, sacred spaces, such as churches, temples and sites for group rituals, were built on land whose features evoked a sense of spirituality . . . sacred spaces can exist wherever you feel a sense of spaciousness and connection to the creative, life-supporting forces of the universe. Arranging the space in your home or office to bring in light and nature will help you feel expansive and access your core creativity as you open up to your important role in all of creation."

5) Seeking Out Creative Stimulation
Visit a place that inspires you - it could be in your backyard, in your city, or a road trip somewhere great! Visit somewhere new - are you inspired by music performance? Architecture? History? Let the internet do the heavy-lifting, and then GO!

6) Mindful Movement
Many forms of physical movement can be an entrée into open-mind consciousness. Of course, yoga is just one activity that you can do to cultivate mindful movement.

Awesome, thanks Sarah! Check Sarah's blog out here.

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